Persephone’s Block Island (Journey from Bar-back to Proud Owner)

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This conversation is part of the “Meet New England” series
exclusive interviews with the owners of our favorite local bars, restaurants, hotels & more.

My family and I have been vacationing on Block Island for over 5 years now, and Persephone’s Kitchen is the only place on the island that we visit at least once, often twice a day while we’re there.

Maeve at Persephones Block Island

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the owner, Persephone, and we chatted in-depth about her incredible journey from bar-back, to cocktail waitress, to eventual owner of one of the best eateries on Block Island.

To an observer, Persephone’s success seems like the result of years of preparation, loads of hard work, a willingness to embrace risk, and perhaps just a little bit of luck.

But Persephone will tell you, it was destiny.

After-all she was named after the Greek “Goddess of the Seasons”. And Persephone’s mother, Demeter, was the “Goddess of the Harvest”.

On second thought, maybe she was on to something…

Restaurant Information

  • Name: Persephone’s Kitchen & Cafe
  • Address: 235 Dodge St., Block Island RI 02807
  • Owners: Persephone Brown
  • Description: Persephone’s Kitchen & Cafe features fresh, lovingly prepared foods, daily gluten free baked goods, and organic, locally roasted coffee. 

Interview with the Owner

// Exclusive Stay New England interview with Persephone Brown, owner of Persephone’s Kitchen, located on Block Island, Rhode Island //

Interview Date:

Hello! Tell us little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Persephone. 

I grew up on the mainland in Rhode Island and moved to Block Island to work a summer when I was 19. 

One summer became 2, and I quickly fell in love with the island and the people here. I have now lived on the island for 25 years. I am married to a carpenter and we have 2 kids.

The island and seasonal nature of life here has very much shaped who I am and how I choose to live, living and working here offered me opportunities I may have not had elsewhere. 

Persephone owner of Persephone's Kitchen

Were you in the hospitality business before? If not, what did you do? 

I grew up in the hospitality business with my first jobs at 14 being in fast food. 

I worked at KFC all through high school. It was there that I learned how to mop a floor and talk to customers – skills that took me into a life of successful food service. 

I have worked in every kind of service from fine dining to fast food, cocktail waitressing to bartending in both cities and rural areas. 

In 2002 I moved to San Francisco and waited tables at a few places there – continuing to gain experience in different environments.

Then I moved to Block Island in 2006 and started bartending at Aldo’s. Later I moved on to cocktail waitressing at the Atlantic Inn, eventually working my way into the dining room.

When I was 28 I went to school for nutrition and that is where I started to explore my talents with food preparation, eating for wellness, and playing with the energetics and beauty of food.

Food 2 persepones block island

What inspired you to open a restaurant? Take us through the early days. What was that like? 

I used to sell my food at the Block Island farmer’s market. The name “Persephone’s Kitchen” actually comes from that – all the food I sold was prepared out of my own kitchen.

My husband used to joke that maybe someday I’d have a restaurant of my own, but that wasn’t something I ever really had in mind.

Then one day, in 2015, I got a call from the landlord who owns the building Persephone’s is in. Her previous tenant was moving out, and she wanted to know if I was interested in leasing the space.

At the time it felt like such a tremendous risk to take.

It was a stressful period – we were about to make a significant financial investment, signing a 3 year lease. We had two kids at home, including a 4 month old! We had never run a restaurant before. Block Island wasn’t nearly as popular then as it is now. There was also the seasonal aspect to consider – you need to make your year’s worth of income in 6 months. There was so much uncertainty and doubt about whether or not we should do this.

My husband and I ended up going to a couple’s counselor to help us work through whether or not this was the right decision for our family. Eventually we decided it was.

Now, looking back nearly 10 years later, Persephone’s Kitchen has completely changed our lives.

You’re on an elevator. Doors open in less than a minute. How do you describe Persephone’s Kitchen to the person standing next to you?

We are a healthy, eclectic Cafe, but we have lots of variety too – there are donuts at the counter! There is truly something for everyone.

And we love our staff.

Everything that we do comes from them, and their energy – they are the ones that create the fun, family environment we have today .

Why Block Island? What makes it such a special place?  

Like many of the people here, I started off as a Summer employee (back in 1997).

I loved Block Island from the very beginning, but at the time Block Island represented a landing spot for me after my stint in San Francisco.

It’s just really hard to make a life here year round, so that wasn’t ever a goal of mine.

But after years of working here, I eventually met my husband in 2006, and he was living here year round. We had one child, and then another, and we just kept finding ways to make it all work.

Between his work as a carpenter and mine at Persephone’s we were able to buy a home and really settle down. But it was a slow evolution.

eating donuts at persephone's

What’s the best part of owning a restaurant? The worst part? 

The best part of owning Persephone’s is by far my relationship with the staff. It’s such a privilege to be able to work with them in this high-energy, high-paced environment.

We work really hard, but everyone is happy. The staff are happy. The customers are happy.

To be able to create the food and this type of environment is incredibly fulfilling.

The worst part is not being able to vacation in the Summer with my family.

Persephone’s is a seasonal business, so we are full steam ahead during the Summer months. And by the time we close our doors for the season, Winter is right around the corner.

What are you most excited about right now with your business? 

I really want to grow, and I want to make different stuff, but we are limited by space. The whole island is limited by space. We all work out of small, old buildings and there just isn’t much rental space available.

So growth is what I am most excited for, but I don’t know if it’s possible.

That said, I have been putting this out there for awhile now, so hopefully when the time is right the opportunity will present itself!

What’s the most unusual/bizarre request you’ve gotten from a patron? 

I once had someone ask me if we “had any more masculine food items”.

We offered them a bacon, egg and cheese. They were satisfied with that 😅

When you next have time off, where will you be? 


We get our time off when the doors to Persephone’s close during the “off-season” here on Block Island.

Our children are in school here, so we stick around and try to vacation during their school vacations.

We spend a good amount of time skiing in Vermont, and usually try to go South at least once during the school year.

What’s the future hold? 

When my kids get older, I’d love to do more with Persephone’s.

I’ve been allowing this time with this Cafe to be a “simmering” period – things will remain the way they are for a while.

But I’d love to open either a second Persephone’s, or a different concept altogether – either on, or even off Island.

I’m just excited to do more.

But I hope I can keep the energy going when my kids are older!

Where can we go to learn more?

Behind the Scenes

farmers market table persephones
front of persephones kitchen
treats outside persephones
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Michael Donovan
Hey. I’m Mike, Mackenzie's husband, and dad to Declan and Maeve. I'm also a co-founder and writer here at Stay New England. I've been traveling across the New England region for well over a decade now and I'm excited to share all that I've learned!
Photo of author
Michael Donovan
Hey. I’m Mike, Mackenzie's husband, and dad to Declan and Maeve. I'm also a co-founder and writer here at Stay New England. I've been traveling across the New England region for well over a decade now and I'm excited to share all that I've learned!

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